LONDON Processor intellectual property licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) maintained its position as the leading architecture for embedded processors in digital home applications in 2008, ahead of MIPS and Power Architecture, according to market research company Semicast Research Ltd.
Semicast said that cell phones accounted for around 60 percent of ARM-based processor revenues in 2008. Over the next five years, Semicast expects the ratio to move to closer to 50:50, as ARM expands its presence in applications beyond the phone.
Semicast judges that ARM will extend its lead over MIPS and Power architectures in the medium term.
ARM and MIPS are rivals in home networking gear, handheld games consoles, media players/MP3 players, digital cameras, digital TVs, set-top boxes and DVD recorders, all of which are key growth areas for both architectures over the coming years. In comparison, the Power Architecture has achieved the dominant position in wired games consoles, with design-wins for the Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360. However Power Architecture is forecast to see only a moderate increase in revenues in other areas of the digital home, so its presence is set to remain limited to the console arena, Semicast said.
Intel's x86 architecture has produced specialized processors for PCs and has not been used in other consumer equipment. However, low-power versions of x86, such as the Atom, have been introduced in recent years. Partnership between Intel and TSMC to introduce the Atom processor as a CPU core for ASICs and ASSPs will further help to establish the x86 architecture in the digital home.
The x86 lies behind ARM, MIPS and Power but should AMD or Intel dislodge Power in one of the next generation of wired games consoles, x86 revenues could pass Power Architecture's in the digital home sometime before 2014.
Of suppliers of ARM, MIPS and Power Architecture-based embedded processors to digital home applications in 2008, Broadcom is estimated to have been the market leader. IBM, NXP, Samsung and Toshiba make up the top five, which between them accounted for over 50% of processor revenues.